Lately, I’ve been cheating on Retinol with its cousin, Retinaldehyde.
I know, I know. But, hear me out before judging me.
I first met Retinol in my mid-20s. It promised to help me fight those pesky crows’ feet that were already starting to creep up around my eyes and keep wrinkles away. What could I do but fall in love?
But retinol isn’t the gentlest lover. Yes, it keeps its promises, but it can be so irritating. Flaking, stinging, redness… you go overboard a little and you’ll regret it.
Retinaldehyde is gentler. It fights wrinkles as well as retinol, but it doesn’t leave you with a red, peeling face.
What can I say? It knows how to win a girl’s heart.
Here’s why you should consider making the switch from Retinol to Retinaldehyde, too:
What The Heck Is Retinaldehyde?
Retinaldehyde and Retinol belong to the same family: Vitamin A.
To work their magic on wrinkles, they both have to be converted to Retinoid Acid, the active form of Vitamin A.
Retinaldehyde just happens to be closer to it. It’s converted in one step whereas Retinol takes two:
Retinyl palmitate > Retinol > Retinaldehyde > Retinoic acid
As a rule, the closer a form of Vitamin A is to Retinoid Acid, the better and faster it works.
P.S. Retinaldehyde can be converted to Retinol too.
P.P.S. Friends call it Retinal.
Can Retinaldehyde Fight Wrinkles?
Yes. Retinaldehyde is a form of Vitamin A and all forms of Vitamin A have some effects on wrinkles.
The real question is: how well does Retinaldehyde do the job?
A 1999 French study tested a Retinaldehyde 0.05% cream against an emollient cream without Retinaldehyde. The results were clear. Retinaldehyde make skin thicker and more elastic.
A study conducted by Dr Boisnic went a step further and researched the effects of a 0.05% Retinaldehyde cream on sun damaged skin. The results were impressive: “in all UVA-exposed and then Retinaldehyde-treated skin specimens, collagen and elastic fibers were restored to the level of nonexposed skin. It has been shown that Retinaldehyde has many of the properties of Tretinoin” in treating photo aging.
Retinaldehyde does this even better than Retinol. According to a 2006 study, 0.05% retinaldehyde is as effective as 0.05% retinoic acid for the treatment of photoaging. In comparison, “retinol is 20 times less potent than tretinoin and it requires further conversion to retinoic acid (in vivo)”.
Can Retinaldeyde Fight Acne, Too?
Vitamin A doesn’t just fights wrinkles. It fights acne, too. Retinaldehyde does the job particularly well. Here’s why:
- It has antibacterial properties: unlike other forms of Vitamin A, Retinaldehyde can kill P.Acnes, the bacteria that causes acne.
- It’s gentle: most anti-acne treatments are pretty harsh on the skin. Retinaldehyde is a lot gentler and can safely be used both alone or with other anti-acne treatments, such as BHA.
Is Retinaldehyde Gentler Than Other Forms Of Vitamin A?
Retinoic Acid, the active form of Vitamin A, is irritating as hell. That’s why it’s available by prescription only.
OTC forms, like Retinaldehyde and Retinol, are gentler. But, as you well know, Retinol can still make your skin flake and peel if you use too much too soon or if your skin is sensitive.
Is Retinaldehyde as irritating, too?
A German study compared the irritation potential of both Retinaldehyde and Retinol and concluded they are both gentler than Retinoic Acid.
But, they both can still cause some irritation. You may want to start slowly with Retinaldehyde, too.
What Are The Best Skincare Products With Retinaldehyde?
And here comes the catch. Retinaldehyde is still the underdog of antiaging. Not many brands are using it. Here are a few exceptions:
- Arcona Advanced A Serum ($85.00): available at Dermstore and Nordstrom
- Medik8 Crystal Retinal 10 (£79.00): available at Adore Beauty and Medik8
- Osmosis Renew Level 4 Vitamin A Serum ($88.00): available at Dermstore.
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The Bottom Line
Retinaldehyde is an underrated antiaging superstar. It busts wrinkles and gets rid of acne without irritating your skin. If you find other forms of Vitamin A too harsh for your skin, you may want to give it a go.
Do you use products with Retinaldehyde? Share your faves in the comments below.
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